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Frequently Asked Questions

Selecting a competent tax and accounting firm is an important financial decision. Here is a list of questions you might wish to ask about St. Clair Advisory Group and the services we offer.

Our staff of tax and accounting experts hold extensive professional credentials and have decades of experience. Many people use the terms "tax preparer" and "CPA" interchangeably. In fact, tax preparation and accounting are separate disciplines with different educational requirements and credentials which are described next.

Tax preparer - A person who is trained in tax law and uses that knowledge to prepare returns.

Certified Public Accountants (CPA) must hold a 4-year degree and show that you have achieved the necessary hours of education in accounting, pass the CPA exam, achieve a minimum of 2 years of accounting experience under the supervision of a CPA. CPAs may specialize in audit, tax, cost management, finance or other areas.

Enrolled Agent (EA) status is the highest credential awarded by the IRS. The EA credential is recognized across all 50 U.S. states. To become an EA, you must pass all three parts of the IRS Special Enrollment Exam; or you must have worked at the IRS for five consecutive years in a position where you were regularly engaged in applying and interpreting the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code and the regulations relating to income, estate, gift, employment, or excise taxes.

Accountant - A person who is trained in bookkeeping and in preparation, auditing and analysis of accounts. Accountants prepare annual reports and financial statements for planning and decision making. An accountant who is licensed as a CPA, LTC or LTP may also provide advice on tax laws.

Bookkeeper - A person who records the day-to-day financial transactions of a business. The bookkeeper is responsible for ensuring that all transactions are properly recorded in a general ledger and other record-keeping systems of the business.

There is an ongoing shortage of tax preparers. Good preparers are hard to find and firms will pay top dollar to attract good talent. We recognize the importance of attracting and keeping talented preparers and accountants on our team. Our pricing is extremely competitive with firms that offer comparable levels of service and expertise, while reflecting the true cost of providing our clients with access to experienced and competent staff.

Our tax professionals are not paid on commission, because we believe the interests of our clients need to be the foremost concern of every member of our staff. Preparers who are paid by commission are less likely to seek assistance from more experienced personnel, and this is detrimental to the well-being of the client. Instead, our team of tax professionals shares knowledge and experience, working to match experience-levels with the needs of our clients.

Good tax preparers are very hard to find. That's why we strive to provide a professional work environment that attracts and keeps our employees happy. We do this by providing opportunity for educational growth, a comfortable living wage, and benefits like paid vacations, sick pay and health insurance assistance. The majority of our staff work for us year-round.

Due to the complexities of tax law, it can be challenging for seasonal preparers to build adequate levels of experience and understandably most skilled preparers need to earn their living with a year-round job. That said, we do have two or three preparers who appreciate the opportunity for seasonal employment during the winter months of tax season. Our seasonal preparers receive extensive training and supervision to ensure they are up-to-date on tax laws. They provide invaluable support to our year-round staff during the demanding tax season.

We serve more than 2,500 clients each year, including individuals, partnerships, LLCs, corporations, estates, trusts and government organizations.

We review all tax returns for accuracy. We utilize numerous cross-check procedures to keep errors to an absolute minimum. These procedures include:

  • Completion of a detailed questionnaire
  • Computerized error analysis
  • Manual error-check by trained staff members
  • Manual review of the finished tax return by the Designated Consultant

Our offices are open year round. We employ full-time, year-round staff.

CPAs and Enrolled Agents are authorized to represent tax payers before the IRS. CPAs and Licensed Tax Consultants are authorized to represent tax payers. We have experience representing clients before the IRS and are willing to assist our clients with audits or requests for information.

We emphasize accuracy, but recognize the importance of delivering a finished tax return in a timely manner. Our turn-around is generally 2-3 days for most returns, but complex returns or tax situations can take longer. You can help us achieve faster turnaround by bringing all required information to your tax interview. For example, if you bring all required documentation to your interview, your preparer may be able to complete your return during your initial appointment. On the other hand, if you need to deliver additional information after your interview is completed, it may take several days or more before your preparer is able to block out time to finish up your return, depending on his or her workload.

Our series of Tax Organizers are designed to help you gather your tax records and prepare for your tax interview.